Rolex 24 at Daytona: Rain biggest obstacle for drivers during early morning hours of endurance race

Photos for Headline Surfer / Veteran NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon makes contact with the back of Tom Long, sending him spinning through the grass in the chicane in the early going of the 2017 Rolex 24.Things got really slick during the overnight hours with several crashes.
YouTube video download / Rain causes slick conditions on the super speedway, causing driver Nic Jonsson to crash.  
 
By HENRY FREDERICK
Headline Surfer

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The report from the track at 3:18am, ET, wasn't good news: The tenth full course yellow was called for inclement weather. Rain has been persistent throughout the night, but its recent increase in intensity caused race officials to take proactive measures. Green-flag racing did not resume until 4:12am, ET.

At the sharp end of the field, the No. 90 Visit Florida Racing Riley led the way on the restart, trailed by the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac. Rene Rast held the top spot through yet another FCY, caused by an incident involving the No. 50 Mercedes out of Turn 1. 

On the restart that followed the latest full-course yellow, Christian Fittipaldi drove aggressively on the outside in Turn 1 in an attempt to earn his lap back, but it was to no avail. Rast kept him at bay, but pitted at the very end of the  14th hour, giving up the race lead to Wayne Taylor Racing.

As described by Nick DeGroot of Motorsports.com, you can't mention GTLM this weekend without including Ford in the same sentence. Billy Johnson in No. 68 was leading, Harry Tincknell in the No. 69 runs second, but they haven't driven away. The Porsche duo, the Risi Ferrari and the No. 3 Corvette are all still on the same lap as the Ganassi drivers. The restart that followed the 11th caution of the race proved just how precarious Ford's advantage was. The Porsche drivers went on the attack, overwhelming the Blue Ovals and moving into 1-2. Dirk Werner leads the way now with the No. 911 while Kevin Estre runs second in the No. 912.

The Stevenson Motorsports Audi heads the GTD class right now with Robin Liddell just a handful of seconds clear of Mario Farnbacher in the No. 33 Mercedes. Mark Wilkins holds down third in the Michael Shank Racing Acura.

Not much has changed in Prototype Challenge with Performance Tech holding onto a three-lap advantage over the competition.

 

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Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area in Central Florida, via HeadlineSurfer.com. Specializing in breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most experienced reporters with dozens of journalism-industry awards in print & digital mediums. Frederick is enrolled online at Full Sail University in Winter Garden, FL, where he's pursuing a Master of Arts degree in New Media/Journalism (graduation in March 2018). Frederick earned his BA in Political Science/Public Admin. (concentration in Writing) from Central Connecticut State University, in 1984, where he recieved the President's Citation for "academic excellence & outstanding campus/community service." Prior to myriad duties as publisher/award-winning journalist of Headline Surfer, 2008-present; Frederick was city hall reporter for the Palatka (FL) Daily News, 2007-2008; city editor of the Taunton (MA) Daily Gazette, 2005-2006; cops & courts/legal affairs writer for the Daytona Beach News-Journal, 1996-2004; and cops & courts reporter for the Rockland (NY) Journal-News/Gannett Suburban Newspapers, 1989-1996.